For hundreds of years, the waters around Newfoundland were alive with cod. Canada’s cod stocks were legendary around the world, and cod was a mainstay of the local economy.

In the 1990s all that changed. After years of overfishing, cod stocks on the Northeast coast of Newfoundland and Labrador drastically declined, and in 1992 a moratorium was imposed, effectively putting an end to commercial cod harvesting in that area. Over 30,000 jobs were lost, and coastal communities were devastated. It was the single largest lay-off in North America during the 20th century.

For about 25 years, the future of this once abundant cod stock was grim. However, in 2006, scientists began to witness a slow and steady trend in stock growth in some areas.

To ensure this recovery continues and is scientifically monitored, WWF Canada and the Fish, Food, and Allied Workers Union (FFAW-UNIFOR), representing 9,000 fish harvesters and processing workers in the fishing industry, agreed to launch a Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) to enhance rebuilding efforts and help restore this iconic fishery for the benefit of nature and people alike.

Purpose and Outcomes

• Photographs were used in a special edition publication by the Canadian Geographic Magazine

• World Worldlife Fund continue to use the images as part of their advocacy work that aims to illuminate the Atlantic cod population recovery

• Photographs were printed large at community events to draw people’s attention to this important issue


Neil has contributed to a number of publications I've worked on over the last few years and has not only delivered excellent photographic work, but he's also been an inspiration to many of the colleagues I've worked with on creating such content. Neil aims high and hits the target. In some respects, even more impressive than the physical results of his work, are the reactions my colleagues have had to the inspiring messages Neil promotes. He's a keen advocate of the importance of telling conservation stories through images, and his message both figuratively and literally leaves a mark on his audiences.

Aaron Kylie, Editor at Canadian Geographic Magazine